RiotRunaan explains Trundle's Lore Change
Surrender at 20: RiotRunaan explains Trundle's Lore Change
Still having issues with the recent Trundlelore update? If so, don't worry ; RiotRunaan has taken to the forums to provide a lengthy post on why Trundle's back story was changed so dramatically and what Riot hoped to accomplish by changing it.
Continue reading for the full post explaining why Trundle needed a new identity, why his personality in general was swapped from "nice guy" to a mean guy, and how all this stirs up new story possibilities for him.
Here is the comprehensive post, from RiotRunaan,
We’ve been reading to your posts over the past few days and we wanted to jump in to say that we hear you. Trundle’s Visual Upgrade (VU) is a big change from what he was, so I want to share some of the story around how and why Trundle, the Troll King came to be. This might be a bit of a huge brain-dump… sorry if I get a little long-winded. Bear with me!
Trundle’s VU began as a piece of concept art for Trundle as a frost troll. Looking at and thinking about this path for Trundle got everyone super excited. Everything about it made sense. The idea of frost and ice fit the theming of his kit. The visuals were strong and compelling. It was a huge opportunity to strengthen Trundle as a character. We met, talked through the pros and cons, and felt that Frost Troll Trundle would be the best version of Trundle. We knew some would still prefer old Trundle, and we made the Traditional Trundle skin for those players.
On the creative team, we faced a challenging question: if Trundle was going to be a frost troll, how could we make him into the “coolest” frost troll he could be? How could we incorporate the key elements of Trundle’s personality into this new narrative? What we came to was an approach that preserved what we felt were key elements of Trundle’s personality, but with a fresh new identity that built him into the story of the Freljord and provided huge opportunities for storytelling in the future.
Why a new identity?
You guys are right: Trundle’s old story was compelling. It was a strong arc with a cathartic ending that finished the story of Trundle’s involvement with his tribe. The thing is, that story was effectively finished. Any evolution from the point at which Trundle decides to doom his tribe felt arbitrary when we discussed it internally.
We explored evolving Trundle into a frost troll as a solution to the problem of his story feeling complete. For example, we tried stories like “ice of Freljord slowed the disease” or “the Ice Witch cured him,” but they felt like Band-Aid solutions to get from Story A to Story B. This would not have been meaningful character development; it would have been an excuse to move the story forward in an inorganic way. A fresh start allowed us to create a strong, compelling, and open-ended story for Trundle.
Trundle’s old story was essentially finished, but new Trundle’s story is only just beginning. It’s essentially Act 1… where will the rest of the Troll King’s story take us?
With all of that in mind, we took a great deal of care in preserving elements of Trundle’s old story in his new. These themes didn’t take the exact same form, but here’s a run-down of our thought process.
In his old story, Trundle was the underdog. He was a runt, underappreciated and mocked by his tribe. In Trundle’s new story, these themes carry over. Trundle is by no means the biggest and strongest member of his tribe in the Freljord. When he perceives that the troll chieftain he follows may be leading his people down a path of destruction, Trundle challenges him, but the physical conflict only ends in humiliation for him. You’ll notice that when Trundle departs his tribe, he leaves to “the familiar sound of laughter.” Like his old story, scorn and mockery are familiar territory to our poor troll.
For the Tribe!
Trundle of the past was willing to bear the curse of his people at great cost to himself, despite the humiliation he’d faced at their hands. New Trundle faces a similar challenge: he recognizes the danger his people face, and he’s willing to undertake great risk to save them. It may be a bit understated in the bio (we’ve only got so much space to tell stories in that format), but venturing into the Ice Witch’s territory is no easy task. Trundle should have died—the Frostguard who live in that area of the Freljord have access to dark and terrible power. Through his strength and his cunning, however, he prevails.
Old Trundle’s character had a great deal of cleverness and wit to him, especially in his in-game voice over. For Trundle’s VU, we completely embraced this and further incorporated it into his story. Trundle’s encounter with the Ice Witch presents him with an option: he can surrender, or he can twist the situation to his advantage. Trundle chooses the latter. He sees an opportunity to use the Ice Witch’s powerful presence to further his own goals for his people. An alliance with the Ice Witch will allow the trolls a chance at conquering the Freljord and ousting the humans that hold it—and, when the time is right, Trundle believes he’ll be able to defeat the Ice Witch herself.
The “Nice Guy” Turns Mean
Many of you have mentioned that this new iteration of Trundle is a selfish creature, but in Trundle’s old Judgment, he reveals a darker shade of his personality. Trundle learns that bearing the curse for his people didn’t save them at all and they are, in fact, still doomed to die. He’s granted the option to save him… but he doesn’t. The bitterness and scorn he feels at being treated as an unworthy runt his whole life finally catches up to him. He leaves them to rot.
New Trundle undergoes a similar transformation, though it may be a touch more subtle. When he becomes the Troll King, the power may have begun to go to his head. He’s never been looked up to, he’s never been treated with respect, he’s so used to humiliation that the right to rule has added a darkness to him that may or may not grow into something more.
Things like this give us a lot of storytelling potential for Trundle in the future—let’s talk about that!
So, where do we begin with Trundle, the Troll King? Where can we take him from here?
One key factor is that Trundle is still the underdog of the Freljord. Ashe, Sejuani and Lissandra seem to be the main power players here, but Trundle is the unexpected fourth force in the grand scheme of things. There’s a lot ahead of him, but can the Troll King rise to the challenge and reclaim the Freljord in the name of his kin?
We’ve put him in a very interesting conflict with the Ice Witch. They’ve forged an alliance of convenience—each needs the other to advance their plans, but where will that end? Lissandra herself is a master manipulator whose cleverness and guile will go toe-to-toe with the Troll King. Will the alliance have unforeseen consequences? Who will turn on the other first?
I hinted at this before, but Trundle’s character flaw—the fact that his newfound power may go to his head—opens up a lot of possibilities for us, too. He began his journey because he wanted a greater future for the trolls of Freljord, but will his hunger for greatness ever put them at risk? Power is an unwieldy, tricky thing, and Trundle is a made leader, not a born one. What challenges has he NOT considered?
“But I loved the old Trundle!”
We hear you. By no means do we think that Trundle’s old story and personality were a detriment to our game. We know that Trundle was beloved to some, which is why the Traditional Trundle skin exists. This preserves the fantasy that Trundle once held. If you want to be Trundle, the Plague Troll, that character still exists for you in all his glory, complete with classic voiceover and updated character art and visual effects.
We’ve taken a lot of steps to make Trundle the greatest frost troll he can be while still preserving the key elements of who he once was. This opens up a lot of opportunities for stories and serves a greater goal of building out our world into a more cohesive, unified whole. We’ve only just begun to talk about the coming war in the Freljord, and now Trundle can play an important part in that conflict. We hope the evolving story of the Freljord and Trundle’s new role there really give you something to dig into for League of Legends lore.
Thanks everyone, and keep on trollin’.If more discussion crops up, I'll be sure to edit it in!
-Runaan and the Riot Creative Team"